I first came to meet Jean Paul Gaultier (JPG) as a floundering young man in the early 90’s when at this point of my life I was living the precarious life of a male model. To think that I even lasted 4 years still brings a rueful smile. That of course pales in comparison to the 40 years JPG has lasted in the business of being a fashion connoisseur and zen master designer, and one of the few iconic designers at the helm of his own empire.
As I entered the atelier of JPG, there to audition for one of the few coveted spots to appear in his upcoming spring collection the man finely gazed at me and smiled nonchalantly as he asked me to present my book. Dutifully I presented it to him whilst he flicked through each page audibly bored and distressed until he came to one picture of me with blood and mud running down my face. He then got out of his chair, had one of his assistants take a picture of me head on and sideways and before I knew it, wished me a pleasant afternoon. As it turned out, I never did get booked for his show, but a few weeks later whilst partying at Le Bandush I once again came across JPG who must have remembered me because he started pointing at me with a wicked smile with his arms crossed over his chest (like mine had been in that picture) wishing me pleasantries.
Instead of being chagrined I was overwhelmingly pleased that this bon vivant had remembered me, and would do so again at a future date in NYC a year later.
That said, this interview feature between Humberto Leon and JPG courtesy of Autumn Furr of Black Frame, a specialty creative house made its way to our desks. Now many years later a publisher and prolific writer I began cynically thinking as I began reading the first paragraph. ‘Here we go again, another publicist trying to get me to do a freebie for their client.’
But the more I read, the more I relaxed and wanted to know more, until I suddenly I arrived at the very end.
That said, I have reprinted this intriguing interview and take on fashion, design and the business of staying sane amongst insane people in the field of creatives. The original article is linked in Opening Ceremony to the author (please be sure to go to the site to see the many pictures and videos that I have not re-published here) Humberto Leon as he takes us on a rare but delicious journey of being a master of fashion, but most importantly a master of one’s fate. Enjoy the read, I most assuredly did...- Scallywag, the Editor.
35 Years of Gaultier: Humberto Leon Interviews the Man Behind the Empire
The imagination of a man like Jean Paul Gaultier almost escapes description. For nearly four decades, the world has seen his irrepressible vision take shape in ways that not only changed the game but actually exploded it–whether on the human body, in the cinema, or all over our interiors. Today, one of the last standing couturiers at the helm of his own empire, Gaultier continues to perfect and probe the relationship between fashion and enterprise. Humberto Leon interviewed him in celebration of his very first international retrospective–The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts–which opened Friday, June 17.
Humberto Leon: Happy belated birthday! What did you do to celebrate?
Jean Paul Gaultier: Thank you. I am on this detox diet at the moment, so I couldn’t even have my birthday cake – I just had a tiny slice.
HL: What was your favorite birthday party of all time?
JPG: I don’t usually make a big fuss of my birthdays; it is something private and intimate. I did have a party for my fiftieth birthday, and I arrived in drag.